Great Culture of Small Nations
DISPLAY OF SHOTA RUSTAVELI
The aim of this project was to publish a book, which introduces Shota Rustaveli (12th–13th cc.), a great Georgian thinker and poet, to the English-speaking world. Awareness of Rustaveli is a worthwhile task for today’s civilization, for the present stage of European civilization - globalization or the rapprochement of nations and cultures – has acutely posed many problems to small nations. Some of these problems are the concern of European civilization as well. The originality of small nations cannot follow the main line of globalization. It is a great likelihood that tomorrow our civilization will not only lose the originality of small nations but will find itself deficient of the great culture that these nations, in some cases, have tenderly preserved over the centuries. Rustaveli is one brilliant specimen of the great culture of small nations, without which European culture in the future will become impoverished to some extent. It is safe to say that Rustaveli had his place in the process of Western civilization. The salvage of the great culture of small nations is a must of European civilization.
The introduction of Rustaveli to world civilization is, at the same time, the presentation of Georgia as well. Georgia – with its rich language, great culture and history – is an integral part of European civilization. The country is enthusiastically involved in the process of globalization and is ready to accept the lot of small nations. This drive adds to the country’s desire to leave an imprint of its identity on the future quality of world civilization. Rustaveli is the foremost representative of original Georgian culture, occupying a place in the cultural heritage of mankind.
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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS (by Elguja Khintibidze)
The idea of producing this book originated when the forced reconstruction of the education system brought about drastic changes in Georgia and when the existence of the Centre for Georgian Studies, which was founded by me, was at stake because of financial difficulties. My young friend and business person Mr. Jumber Khatiashvili came to my aid. The project, “The Great Culture of Small Nations,” was launched by the Fund for Kartvelian (Georgian) Studies.
My elder friend and long-time collaborator Arrian Tchanturia undertook the translation of the book into English.
My pupils – Nino Chakunashvili, Tamar Khapava, Irina Javakhadze, Sophio Guliashvili and Tsira Vardosanidze – worked on culling the needed material from libraries, the Internet and computer services, as well as proofreading.
I have enjoyed unstinted scholarly and moral support from my British colleagues – Anthony Bryer, Robert Thomson, Donald Rayfield, Stephen Nash and Antony Eastmond – as well as from my former students and young colleagues from Britain – Antony Stobart, Ian Colvin, Emily Hill, Manana Khatiashvili and Anna Chelidze.
The success of the project was greatly facilitated by my two scholarly missions to Britain within the framework of a joint programme between the Georgian National Academy of Sciences and the British Academy.
I and my colleague Mr. Tchanturia wish to note with gratitude the contribution to the editing of parts of the text of the present book made by Professor Virginia Bodyfelt. Special thanks are due to Ms. Lisa Brown, Managing Director “The English Book” LTD, for introducing us to Prof. Bodyfelt.
I also recall with appreciation the readiness expressed by the publisher Mr. Nick Awde of Bennet and Bloom to consider publication of the book upon his first acquaintance with its contents.
All these persons and institutions deserve thanks for the help they have given me in the course of this work.
I think I shall not be mistaken in saying that the result of the efforts of the team implementing the project, the supporting organizations and my colleagues was not only the fulfillment of the idea of producing the monograph Display of Rustaveli within the intended project. It is fortunate to report on and argue an absolute novelty regarding the history of Georgian culture and English literary criticism, namely that the highest and most popular literary circles of early 17th-century England were acquainted with Rustaveli’s The Man in the Panther’s Skin, successfully putting it to literary use.